Led by a big night from Kenny Lofton and a two-run blast from Chase Utley, the Phillies manufactured seven runs without the long ball and beat the Orioles 9-3 in their interleague opener at Camden Yards.
Look at this.
Look … at … this.
With last night’s win, the Phils have crawled to 4.5 games back of new division leader Florida, they’ve won four of five, and pitcher Randy Wolf, an early concern this season, is 2-1 with a 2.77 ERA in the month of May.
What do we have here?
We have a baseball team.
Last night was an awesome night for the Phils offense. The most impressive aspect was how they utilized speed, manufactured runs, and played smart with men on base.
When the lineups were announced and Ryan Howard’s name excluded, I scratched my head. All along, I thought interleague would be the perfect spot to showcase his bat unabated.
Instead, Charlie Manuel went with a speed lineup, using Endy Chavez in the nine-hole and Kenny Lofton as DH, and the strategy worked. With the addition of Chavez, and the re-addition of Lofton, the Phils were downright pesky.
Lofton, who was reactivated from the disabled list and replaced Jose Offerman, who was designated for assignment, singled on the first pitch he faced en route to a 3-4 night. He looked to be playing at about 75 percent and needed to dig hard on the two runs he scored.
Several others, including speed merchant Chavez, scored on base hits when a slower player might not have. Chavez’s numbers might not impress you, even less would be the play he butchered last night in center, but the team is 4-1 since the trade, and for what it’s worth, Rollins is playing better, going 3-5 with an RBI single last night.
Rollins and Chavez were also part of the growing trend, delivering RBI singles with men in scoring position, as Pat Burrell and Bobby Abreu each contributed in that area. With the hit, Abreu extended his hitting streak to 13 games.
Aside from base running and hitting with men on base, Chase Utley blasted a typical Chase Utley home run, sending Daniel Cabrera’s (3-3, 5.29 ERA) low-inside fastball over the right-field wall for his eighth of the season
Randy Wolf (3-4, 4.75 ERA) capitalized on the big lead, working six innings, allowing two runs - one earned - and seven hits, walking two and striking out six. It’s nothing but a great sign, as the Phils can’t afford to have two pitchers – Wolf and Vicente Padilla – go back to back and consistently take loses.
With the loss, the Orioles fall to 56-84 in interleague play, the worst record in the majors as the Phils continue to pound division leaders.
That’s right, I said pound.
You know what else?
This team’s heating up.
Now it’s Vicente Padilla’s turn to dish out some pain.